Thinking about bringing a four-legged friend into your life? Owning a dog can be an incredibly rewarding experience. But it’s not cheap, by any means.
According to research by Rover.com, new dog owners can expect to spend $1,487 in up-front expenses. After that, caring for Fido will cost an average of $153 per month, plus an extra $730 in annual expenses.
Of course, these are just averages. The specific breed you choose could be much more or less expensive to own. And aside from money, you want to be sure that your dog is a good fit for your home and family, too. So to figure out what type of breed would best suit your budget and lifestyle, consider the following questions.
Are you active or a couch potato?
When choosing a dog, you should make sure that your energy levels match. Breeds such as Dalmatians, Siberian Huskies, Australian Shepherds, Akitas and Border Collies, for instance, are among the most energetic. “Lack of activity can lead to behavioral issues like aggression or destructive behavior,” explained Lauren McDevitt, co-founder of the pet-finding site Good Dog. “For this reason, it’s absolutely vital that anyone bringing a high-energy dog into their home is willing to make the physical and financial commitment to meeting their dog’s needs.
If you have your sights set on a high-energy pooch but don’t have the time or energy needed to keep him active, you might consider hiring a dog walker. However, dog walking services aren’t cheap. You can expect to pay $15 to $20 for a 20-minute walk, or $20 to $30 for a 30-minute walk. Some dog walkers might offer discounts to regular customers.
Keep in mind that not all dogs can handle a ton of exertion, though. For example, brachycephalic breeds (a fancy term for dogs with smushy faces) can’t take too much exercise or heat because the shape of their faces makes breathing more difficult.
Take Duke, my Boston Terrier-French Bulldog mix. He demands his walk every evening like clockwork, but tuckers out after about 15 minutes. We also have to avoid midday during the summer, when the temperature is too hot for him and heat exhaustion becomes a risk.
Certain extra-large breeds such as Mastiffs, Great Danes and Irish Wolfhounds are also surprisingly low-energy and would rather lounge on the sofa than go for a run.
Do you live in a small apartment or house with a yard?
You should also consider your living situation when choosing a pup. For starters, bigger dogs simply need more space. And highly active breeds often require access to a yard where they can burn off energy throughout the day. However, your home type can matter for financial reasons, too.
If you’re lucky enough to find an apartment that allows pets, you might be required to pay an additional pet deposit, slightly higher rent or both.
When it came time to add a dog to her family, Jennifer Coates and her husband chose a Shiba Inu in part because of the breed’s temperament and size. “A lot of the apartments in Los Angeles have weight restrictions for dogs ... that was a huge factor,” she said. The weight limit for dogs in her apartment building is 25 pounds, so her dog Katsu makes the cut. Plus, she said he has an activity level that’s ideal for apartment living. However, she still had to pay an additional pet deposit up front, plus an extra $50 in monthly rent.
Some home insurance companies also place restrictions on the types of breeds homeowners can have. You might know that Spike is all bark and no bite, but insurance companies might not be willing to take the chance. If you own a breed that’s considered aggressive or vicious by an insurer— like a Pit Bull, Doberman or Rottweiler — you might be denied coverage or charged a higher premium.
Are you a homebody or frequent traveler?
Since dogs require regular attention, feeding and exercise, you can’t leave them home alone when you go out of town. If you don’t have a family member or friend who can take over doggy duties while you’re gone, you might need to hire a petsitter or board your dog overnight.
Of course, we all take the occasional vacation, but frequent travelers might find that it’s too expensive to pay for these types of services. Traditional boarding facilities typically charge $25 to $45 per night, while a luxurious stay at a doggie hotel could run from $50 to several hundred dollars. Petsitters may charge anywhere from $20 to $50 per day, though overnights will typically cost more.
However, certain breeds might be well suited to come along with you. Alexis Remensperger of Redondo Beach, California, said her chihuahua Chloe is the perfect fit for her family ― both figuratively and literally. Chloe weighs just five pounds and doesn’t usually require boarding or a petsitter when the family is away. “She’s portable, which makes it easy to fly her on the plane with us and bring her places,” Remensperger said.
Can you commit to regular grooming?
“While consistent grooming and coat care are requirements for every dog, the expenses can start adding up if you have a dog that’s particularly high maintenance,” McDevitt said. “Breeds with intensive grooming requirements, like Cocker Spaniels, Samoyeds, Bichon Frise and mixed-breed doodles, will require dedication and financial investment to maintain a healthy coat.”
Full-service dog grooming, which usually includes services a bath, blow dry, hair cut, nail trim and ear cleaning, costs about $40 to $75 per session, depending on the size and breed of the dog. However, costs could be much higher if you have a particularly large dog or require show-worthy styling.
When Dorothy Downie of Hawthorne, California, recently adopted a puppy, she didn’t realize how much grooming would be in store. Now nine months old, Menehune is a 50-pound fluff-ball whose fur gets everywhere if it’s not maintained. “The longer we let it go, the warmer it gets and the more visibly miserable she gets. So we can’t ignore it,” Downie said, noting that she takes her dog to the groomer every eight weeks or so and spends $85 each time.
If you aren’t equipped to handle a dog with extensive grooming needs, consider a more low-maintenance breed.
Do you have the time and money to spend on vet care?
Though it’s a good idea to take your dog in for regular check ups (and even invest in pet insurance), some dog breeds are notorious for having many medical issues.
McDevitt noted that many larger breeds are prone to dysplasia of the elbow and hip, while flat-faced breeds are prone to breathing issues and skin and ear problems. (I’m looking at you, Duke). Bulldogs, Boxers and Labrador Retrievers are all prone to health issues as well. “It’s important to extensively research the breed you’re interested in getting so you understand what health conditions your potential dog could develop,” she said.
Pete Mauch, who owns an Olde English Bulldog named Stu, is well aware of the medical expenses he’s likely to face. Fortunately, since Stu is only a year old, he hasn’t experienced any major medical issues so far. But he is higher maintenance than some other dog breeds. “Skin irritation is very common in bulldogs because of all the wrinkles,” Mauch said, noting he has to keep special wipes on hand to treat Stu’s face and paws regularly.
Regardless of what type of dog you choose, McDevitt said you should be financially ready for any health risks or emergencies that could arise.
“The best way to save money is to stay on top of your dog’s medical needs and practice prevention,” McDevitt said. “Always make sure your is dog spayed or neutered, is up-to-date on shots, and consistently takes flea, tick and heartworm preventative medicine.” This, she said, will keep your dog from developing a condition or disease that could end up requiring extremely pricey medical care.